Thursday, October 14

Posted by Laurel Garver on Thursday, October 14, 2010 11 comments
I've been intensely revising my first 50 pages in order to be pitch-ready for the Philadelphia Stories's Push to Publish Conference this Saturday.

Part of the day includes a "speed date" time in which we can pitch our projects. My query is in excellent shape (as in, garnering requests for pages), as is my two-page synopsis. I've done massive revisions on the opening chapters and had them critiqued by two writing groups.

On paper, I'm golden.

And they want me to TALK.

ACK!!! I'm trying to not have a total panic attack here. I'm usually most nervous about talking to big groups, but this feels like I'm stepping into the most high-pressure job interview of my life. Except I won't be able to fan open my portfolio and wow them with the graphic design work I did back in the day and hope they don't hear me babbling like an idiot.

Nope, it's just my babbling idiot self and an agent or editor or published writer. It's a first-come, first-served on the slots, so I may be with one of the latter categories. Not that it makes this any less terrifying.

Any tips for preparing to pitch? Tips for talking to strangers without babbling idiotically?
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  1. I hear ya!! For my old career, I was a floral designer...all I had to do to get a job was whip up a fabulous floral arrangement and show off my talents!

    But this writing thing...yeah...much harder.

    I went to a conference back in March and before my pitch session, I attended a Pitch workshop. (And luckily for me, the person giving it was the agent I was pitching to!) She said to stay calm and just talk about your book...pretend it's just too people having a conversation about your book. I tried...but honestly felt like I babbled like crazy. But she was great and asked questions, so that made it easier. She did ask for a partial!

  2. Make sure you can tell them what your book is about in one sentence. At my last pitch session, authors and agents were so happy when I could easily do that, rolling their eyeballs when accounting how so many people take a rambling ten minutes to get to the point.

  3. GO to Adventuresinagentland blog- which is Natalie Fischer's blog, and she gives some tips on pitching- I follow it if you can't find it- GOOD LUCK : )

  4. I have no tips. Public speaking is one of my biggest fears, eeeek! And one-on-one speaking-such as oral tests or interviews or pitching!-make me just as nervous! But I usually do a lot better than I think I will, so I'm sure you will rise to the occasion! I wish you the best of luck, Laurel!

  5. From a former speech & debate coach - Practice, Laurel. You may feel silly, but practice your pitching aloud. A lot. For the most important job interview of my life, I had my husband ask me questions we thought may be asked (and a few he wrote to catch me off guard). I answered aloud, timing my answers, until I could do it smoothly. Then, on the drive there, I practiced again (alone this time) in my car. The more you practice saying aloud, the more comfortable you will feel when you have to do it for real.

  6. oh,I have no idea! that's something beyond me.I'd be so nervous to pitch in person! Good luck!

  7. I'd be nervous too! Good luck! Just keep it simple and hooky! Remember those agents want to find a great book. Let us know how it goes.

  8. Stephanie: good point, that this is about a book and not me. That helps, actually.

    Elle: Rambling = bad. Definitely. I plan to lead off with the logline, then a conversational, trimmed version of the synopsis from my query. I think if I plan to not talk on too long, there will be time for the person look at a few pages.

    Bekah: Thanks. Just read it. Gosh, it sounds like agents have to put up with a lot of garbage at pitch sessions!

  9. Laura: I did OK in speech classes and have been in plays. I think having a script is what makes all the difference. I mostly babble when I try to extemporaneous.

    Shannon: Of course! Doh! I have all this acting training behind me. Practice being the warm, calm professional and learn those lines. Gotcha!

    Tamara: I've been avoiding it like a big chicken. I figure I should try at least once.

    Laura: Great point--the agent is there hoping to discover something good, not for me to flounder and squirm.

  10. I have absolutely no tips for you except this: remember that they are people, who are having to speed listen and would like to find that awesome story as much as you would like them to find it. Deep breaths, and a zen like attitude will cover any word-fumbling along the way. :)

    Good luck!

  11. Well, everyone's advice is great, and I'm too late anyway, since it's today, but GOOD LUCK! Can't wait to hear how it went. :)